2021 Special Prize recognizes exceptional global architecture
The World Architecture Festival (WAF) has revealed the winners of the 2021 Special Prize, which celebrates exceptional architectural merit throughout different categories. This year's selection includes the winner of the Timber Prize shortlist, as well as the Engineering Prize, the Best Use of Color, and more.
The annual WAF event is now officially underway in Lisbon, Portugal, but things are a little different this time around due to COVID-19 and instead of an in-person event, it's taking place online. Still, the projects themselves are no less impressive and the Special Prize winners are notable for their sheer variety.
"Special Prize winners are selected from across the WAF Awards shortlist to shine a light on the projects that exhibit an outstanding use of Engineering, Color, Natural Light, Certified Timber and building Visualization, plus the best Small Project of the Year Prize," explains the WAF. "Specialist judging panels select projects from across the WAF Awards categories showcasing these exceptional architectural qualities."
The winners in each category are detailed below, and the WAF event will culminate with the reveal of the World Building of the Year on December 3.
Best Use of Certified Timber Prize
RTA Studio and Irving Smith Architects have been declared the winners of the Best Use of Certified Timber Prize for their Scion Innovation Hub, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata. The building consists of a workplace located on the edge of the redwood forest in Whakarewarewa Forest Park, New Zealand, which is as beautiful as it is sustainable.
"The project proudly showcases locally sourced timber in a unique diagrid structure requiring less material than traditional mass engineered timber buildings," says the WAF. "[The WAF judges] noted the building achieved embodied carbon zero at the time of completion and showcases dovetail node joints which slot together in an expression of ‘craftsmanship and beauty."
Best Use of Color
The Best Use of Color Prize has gone to ZAV Architects for its Majara Residency, a vibrant vacation community of 200 brightly-colored domed residences on an Iranian island overlooking the Persian Gulf.
"The color and form are beautifully integrated in these simple and stunning domes with their references back to Persian culture and to the immediate natural environment," say the WAF's judges. "They bring harmony and a peace, providing an impressive visual treat to an otherwise quite desolate area."
The Engineering Prize has been awarded to Nikken Sekkei for its Ariake Gymnastics Centre, a 12,000-capacity timber building designed for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The judges hailed the structural use of timber on such a large scale and its elegant geometry and detailing.
"The design and construction process demonstrate an intelligent interrogation of technical considerations," the WAF's judges say. "It was noted that, importantly for an Olympic venue, the building is also designed for a second life as an exhibition hall. The esteemed Engineering Prize is awarded by a specialist jury."
Best Use of Natural Light Prize
Maggie's Leeds, by Heatherwick Studio, has won the Best Use of Natural Light Prize. This superb timber building was created to help foster wellbeing in cancer patients and their families, and is arranged to resemble oversized flower pots which are filled with greenery.
"The biophilic design, combining vegetation and wood, creates a unique experience, and the scarcity of natural light pushes the architects to do more with less, turning restrictive conditions into opportunities," says the WAF's judges. "The skillful use of manmade and natural materials together with a calculated strategy for views and daylight delivers an unusual project that connects with its users."
Atelier Sérgio Rebelo is the winner of the Visualization Prize for its realistic video representation of the Alto Douro Winery and Hotel, a planned project that will celebrate Port Wine production in Portugal’s Douro Valley.
"The video offers an extremely serene visualization that explores the buildings, their locations and their spaces with highly professional editing and content," says the WAF's judges. "The seamless insertion of drone footage with the CGI gives a calm, but hyper realistic ambience which evokes the Portuguese warmth of the winery."
Small Project of the Year Prize
Temporary Housing Pavilion for Health Workers, by Revolution, has won Small Project of the Year. It consists of a modular temporary housing solution in Mexico for health workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. The judges lauded the utilization of recycled bottles and drinks packs as a structural material.
"The temporary shelter for stressed health workers demonstrates community responsibility and a worthy architectural innovation in the face of the pandemic," says the WAF's judges.